05 May, 2015

Some Crazy Vintage Quilt Top

Have you ever purchased a vintage quilt or quilt top? Generally I can admire them but walk by. I might be sorely tempted, but the reality of the number of quilts in my house keeps me from getting them. Then this one came along.

It is just a quilt top. Machine but foundation pieced. A mess of fabrics from different eras and many different substrates. It sat with the other blankets and quilts at one of the local antique malls. I saw it once, then twice. Quite easily I walked away.

Then, after months of not going in the antique mall I took the girls there on an outing our craft supplies. And the top was still there. For $40 I decided it finally needed to come home with me. Frankly, I may have overpaid. The edges are all uneven  - the blocks are various sizes - and there are quite a few loose threads and repairs needed.

I am sure that someone, somewhere put some good love and energy into this. Maybe they are clothing scraps? Family memories tied up in this quilt? Or maybe someone inherited a bunch of fabric and threw it together. There is some thought to design in the placement of the blocks. They are laid out in what I've seen called a Fields and Furrows setting.

All that being said, I think I might use this quilt top to experiment with indigo overdying.

I know. Feel free to comment.

Every since I saw these quilts I've wanted to experiment with this technique. But, I must admit, I'm afraid to do it with one of my own quilts. I've also wanted to play with indigo, period, so that I would try both fabric dying and quilt overdying. With so many different fabrics in this quilt I predict they will take the dye differently. And I wonder if the value work will still be obvious?

The days are definitely getting warmer and I can look forward to a messy few days of experimenting in the backyard.


babiesdoc said...

I once bought a quilt top at a quilt show auction.
years before quilting was in. It is a grandmothers flower garden in peach and green. machine pieced.

20 years later it sits on my guest bed. I learned to use a long arm and it was the first thing that I quilted.
it cost $5 then another 20 for the batting and backing and $45 for 3 hours of long arm rental. It is wonderful and almost king size. I am just sorry that it sat in a box under my bed for 20 years.

I think dying your quilt blue would be fabulous.
as long as all the fabric has some cotton -- the different blues would make it even better.

Pip said...

From the photo the quilt looks quite nice in a scrappy sort of way, but if the construction isn't the best then why not experiment with indigo dying, it will be interesting to see what happens especially if there are some man-made fabrics in the quilt.

rappy said...

Really looking forward to seeing you play with this!

runningstitch said...

I have a quilt I made 20 years ago that I'm itching to overdye with indigo but I don't know much about the process. I've poked around the internet looking for guidance, and I'm excited to see you're thinking about doing it!

Lauren said...

I happen to like the vintage scrappy look a lot, so for that reason, and the question about poly content someone else raised, I probably wouldn't try to dye this particular top. I think dyeing would be great for a top that needed repairs so the fabrics didn't match anyway, and the focus then becomes the quilting texture. The example quilts in your link seemed to have larger pieces, too, didn't they? Maybe so the eye has a chance to find those texture lines in a sea of monochrome. That said, I've never seen that done before so I'm shooting from the hip. In a Scandinavian minimal d├ęcor they would be dynamite!

Sandra W said...

Please don't overdye it. The colour will turn to mud.
You will have a flat quilt. The mixed content will dye unevenly--the polyester won't take the dye.
Then there are the issues of setting the colour and ensuring they don't run.
Also--as an aside--I see that one reader refers to "man made" fabrics. As women can we all please commit to not using this term. Let's call them synthetic or manufactured!

Charlotta said...

I love it just the way it is. But, each to her own, and it is your quilt. Just be sure to sure to show us whatever you end up doing to it. Peace, Charlotta

Sondra said...

I would be concerned about it all turning to mud also if you overdyed it. I know that you know this, but you would need to "set" the dye according to what you use and probably use Synthropol to remove the excess dye.
I had another thought, how about screen printing with paint over it with a screen or thermofax screen...or hand painting details. They you only have to "heat set" the paint or actually just wait a few days for it to cure.
I think that what I would do is try they dying on a smaller quilt to see how it looks first.
Just some thoughts, enjoy your adventure!!!!!!!

Sondra said...

Sorry for the typos!

Karen said...

I would be very curious to see how this overdyes. I imagine that there will be a mix of cotton and other fibers, and it would be neat to see some of the fabrics turn blue and have others stay original colors. I might give it a short time in the dye bath to preserve as much of the furrowed-fields look as possible. Either way, it is a fun quilt top as is.

Bizz McKilligan said...

I fear you are going to find the odd synthetic fabric that doesn't take the dye well. Wouldn't it be better to make a quilt with the intention of overdying. I know that donation quilts are easier for me to donate when they start out as a donation, rather than ones that I get attached to during the process. Besides, the value isn't so much in the light and darkness, but the bright or dullness of the colour. I feel you would lose that effect.

Allison/Savage Pink said...

I have recently bought a couple of vintage tops. I don't think you overpaid - the fabric alone is more than $40 worth, plus the effort that went into it. I paid a bit less for one, and a bit more for another.
Admittedly, I don't have as many quilts as you must have in the house, so my motive may be different. I bought the tops because I love the scrappy traditional look of vintage quilts, but I am in another place with my own work. I can't afford to buy the really nice, finished, vintage quilts that I see for sale. Buying a top was a way for me to own something lovely just by putting a little bit of work into it - backing, binding, quilting. Maybe even adding a little bit to make the size right for my needs. But I have this sense of respecting the work of the original quilter - the OQ. I don't know who s/he was, but I feel a kind of connection to them in finishing their work. I'd like to think that when I go, someone will finish some of my WIPS, and not use them for cutters or experiments.
Apart from the sentimentality of my own feelings, I agree with the practical suggestion made by Bizz, which is making a quilt with the specific intention of overdying. This approach will give you more control over the ingredients, and therefore the best chance of a happy result. It would be a shame to spend time dying something and only find out what you did wrong. That might cool your enthusiasm for dying, and leave you with an unloved quilt. Double negative.

Karen said...

That looks like a lovely picnic quilt.